User Research And How It Can Improve Your Final Product

“User research, or UX research, is an absolutely vital part of the user experience design process.

Typically done at the start of a project, it encompasses different types of research methodology to gather valuable data and feedback. When conducting user research, you’ll engage with and observe your target users, getting to know their needs, behaviours, and pain-points in relation to the product or service you’re designing.

Ultimately, user research means the difference between designing based on guesswork and assumptions, and actually creating something that solves a real user problem. In other words: Do not skip the research phase!” (De Luca)

To me user research is one of the most important steps of designing and creating any product. It gives your product the best chance of success with the audience you are trying to capture with it.

My team was given the project to redesign the Utah Valley University Engineering Technology degree website.

The Engineering Technology degree receives very few new students joining the program and if they do the way they found out about it was through someone else who was already in it or had previously taken it.

They were looking to get the website redesigned and update the content to hopefully bring in more students to the program. The program is in field where the demand for jobs is greater than the supply. All the students would receive job offers at some point throughout their 2 year degree because of how needed they were in the field.

They felt they have a great program that is very enticing with the promise of very well paying jobs and a short 2 year degree that was better than the full 4 year degree. They wanted to make sure this was well advertised and explained on their site to attract more students.

We were able to start out with interviewing the Department Chair and Admin, Diana and Brittany. It was great to get their background with the program and their experience with it.

They were able to express with us their hopes and results that could come from the redesign. They felt it was a success if they got one person to sign up from learning about it through the website because that would be more than they have previously had. The main focus of people they wanted to attract was high school students because they have very few come form high school and mainly had people who are coming back to school to get a better job or needed it to continue to move up in that field.

The program offers two degrees, a 4 year bachelors and a 2 year associates degree. They are trying to push the 2 year degree becuase it is as good if not better than the 4 year because they get the same information but into the job field quicker.

We created a survey to be sent out over our different social media profles to try to gain a better understanding and analysis of possible users and their expectations and their demographic.

Those survey questions were:

  1. How old are you?
  2. What gender do you identify as?
  3. What is your highest level of of education?
  4. What area of study are you most interested in?
  5. What information is most important to you when considering a college or university?
  6. What information is most valuable to you when clicking through a higher education or college degree website?
  7. How familiar are you with the Engineering Technology Department at UVU?
  8. Which of the following statements about the Engineering Technology programs at UVU do you find most appealing?
  9. Which of the following programs offered by the Engineering Department at UVU do you feel could provide the most value?
  10. If selected, would you be willing to participate in a follow-up interview regarding your responses?

We then took a couple people each who said they would be willing to participate in a follow-up interview and asked them the following questions.

Interview Questions:

  1. Are you currently employed? If so, what do you do for work?
  2. What is/was your plan after high school graduation?
  3. For those who said college: Describe how you decided which major to pursue
  4. What tools or resources did you seek out when researching information regarding colleges?
  5. What’s the most important thing you’d want to know when considering a college program?
  6. How difficult was it to determine a major? Why?
  7. Did you change your major while in school? If so, why?
  8. When evaluating higher education programs, how did you decide between a two-year degree and a four-year option?
  9. How do you personally determine the value of a college education?
  10. Between concurrent enrollment, a two-year Associate’s degree, and a four-year Bachelor’s degree which do you believe is the most valuable? Why?
  11. Between a hands-on learning experience in your industry of choice and a more theoretical approach, which would you prefer and why?

The survey and interviews were helpful in understand the audience and their views and expectations. We took the information we received from those interviews and created 4 personas of potential users of the site. Those 4 types of users we focused on were: High school students, current college student, parent, and returning industry worker.

Using those personas it allowed us to narrow our focus on who we wanted to reach and appeal to with the redesign site and helped gives us further direction on design and content choices we made.

We created a scenario map for the High school student. We choose this persona because Diana had mentioned that they get very few joining from high school and that she hoped to change that and get more of them.

The scenario is for her to explore the different degrees, decides on engineering technology and then set up and appointment with an advisor to learn more and enroll.

We used eye tracking to observe 2 people trying to navigate the Engineering Technology as it currently was before the redesign. We gave them certain tasks to try to complete while navigating the site to see where they were running into issues and how we could fix that in the future. It was helpful to see what areas they got stuck on and hearing their feedback on why they did what they did and what got them confused.

I would have liked to have been able to do another eye tracking test with our new design to see if the improvements we tried to make actually did make a difference and to see if there were still any confusing points and road blocks for the users to complete those tasks.

User research is key on designing and creating a better product. That is something I learned during this project. It was great to get other point a views about the site how it currently was and here from them what they issues were for them.

I have noticed that we sometimes don’t notice all the issues with a design. In our heads it may seem fine but having someone else use it and give feedback on it is helpful in refining the design. It is great to get different people with different backgrounds and experience with technology to see if the site has a good user experience for all the potential users of the site.

I would have loved to have done the user research that we did on the current design on our new design aswell. I feel it would have been very helpful in creating a better website design and make sure that it was an improvement over the previous one and to make sure we were hitting the goals that we had for it.

Dylan Dusek is a student in the Digital Media program at Utah Valley University, Orem Utah, studying Interaction Design. The following article relates to (Engineering Technology Redesign Project) in the (DGM 2240 Course) and representative of the skills learned.


Luca, Jenni De. “User Research in UX Design: The Complete Beginner’s Guide.” CareerFoundry, 27 July 2022,

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About two weeks ago I attended the Ironhack UX/UI bootcamp in Barcelona




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